U.S. airlines posted their worst first-quarter performance on late flights in 11 years, as they struggled with bad weather and an overloaded air-traffic control system.
One in four flights, or 25.25 percent, arrived at least 15 minutes late in this year's first three months, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics said Monday. That was the highest rate for the first quarter since 25.50 percent in 1996.
The 23.8 percent of flights that arrived late in March was the airlines' worst performance in that month since the current format for statistics began in 1995, said the bureau, part of the Transportation Department.
U.S. airlines had to cope with storms such as the one in New York City on Feb. 14 and an air-traffic system that even the government acknowledges needs upgrading. The 20 largest airlines, including American Airlines and United Airlines, report delay data to the government.
"The system has reached the saturation point," Marion Blakey, chief of the Federal Aviation Administration, said in a speech last month.
"If the system is stretched tight when the weather's good, we don't have a prayer when the storms roll in."
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